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ARROYO REVS UP SULU OFFENSIVE

by AJLPP-USA Sunday, Aug. 12, 2007 at 11:58 AM
ajlpp_socal@yahoo.com 213-241-0906 337 Glendale Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Saturday remained steadfast to her administration’s all-out war against the Abu Sayyaf group and other rogue elements accused of beheading 10 of the 14 Marines who died in a July 10 firefight in Tipo-Tipo, Basilan. Mrs Arroyo said the war in Mindanao, which so far claimed the lives of 25 soldiers and wounded 10 others, is not an act of vengeance but a strategy to win peace," against those who spread “mayhem" and “bloodsport" in the South. “We cannot allow terrorists to hold the South hostage to their agenda of mayhem and bloodsport," she said.

AJLPP RP Update No. 0111

August 11, 2007

Arroyo revs up Sulu offensive; AFP says 32 MNLF, 25 AFP Troops Killed in Clashes

Manila--Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Saturday remained steadfast to her administration’s all-out war against the Abu Sayyaf group and other rogue elements accused of beheading 10 of the 14 Marines who died in a July 10 firefight in Tipo-Tipo, Basilan.

Mrs Arroyo said the war in Mindanao, which so far claimed the lives of 25 soldiers and wounded 10 others, is not an act of vengeance but a strategy to win peace," against those who spread “mayhem" and “bloodsport" in the South.

“We cannot allow terrorists to hold the South hostage to their agenda of mayhem and bloodsport," she said.

“We seek peace with those with peaceful intentions. But we also week justice for our soldiers, civilians and communities affected by this conflict. Our troops will prevail because our intentions are just and noble," she added.

Mrs Arroyo also ordered Army chief Lt. Gen. Romeo Tolentino to lead the military offensive in Mindanao.

Army Chief to Lead Operations in Mindanao

According to a radio DZBB report, Mrs Arroyo also instructed Tolentino to use the Western Command in Zamboanga as the temporary Army operations headquarters until the situation in the volatile region eases.

The report added that the President is confident that Tolentino, whom she described as the soldiers’ soldier, will not only win the war but also pursue efforts to preserve peace in Mindanao.

Fatalities in the on-going fight in Sulu, Basilan and Maguindanao provinces between government forces and terrorist group Abu Sayyaf along with rogue elements of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), have risen to 32, radio dzBB reported Saturday afternoon.

Quoting reports provided by Armed Forces chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr to Malacañang, dzBB said government forces have killed a total of 32 Abu Sayyaf members and the group's allies.

The report said that of the total number of fatalities, military troops saw 20 bodies, 10 of whom have been recovered.

Meanwhile, dzBB said civilian witnesses saw many Abu Sayyaf members wounded in their encounter with government troops.

The same report said that five of the fatalities were recovered from Lanao Dakula village in Parang Sulu. While the other five bodies were retrieved from Tambaking village in the province's Maimbung town.

Among the bodies recovered from Parang were initially identified as those belonging to "Jahili," said to be a member of the breakaway group of the MNLF, Marad Astig also known as "Rambo," said to be a Sayyaf member under the group of Radulan Sahiron, and reportedly number 17 on the military's order of battle.

Meanwhile, among the bodies recovered from Maimbung reportedly belonged to Salip Edimaraka alias "Long Hair," said to be a close-in security of Sahiron and Samasdal Jindain, also a suspected Sayyaf member, who was the right-hand man of Albader Parad.

Two More Army Batallions Sent to Sulu

The first batch of military backup arrived on Saturday in Sulu to reinforce actions against Abu Sayyaf and rogue MNLF members.

“We are pursuing, we are continuing with our operations to be able to cordon (off) and finally destroy the Abu Sayyaf. We are pressing with our operations, we are continuing with our operations," said Army spokesman Lt. Col. Ernesto Torres.

Torres said the first group of reinforcement composed of one company – or about 120 men - is part of the Army battalion being sent to Sulu to augment forces in the area. Another Army battalion from Luzon will be sent soon to the island-province.

“On the part of the Army, we are sending to Sulu one battalion from Visayas and another battalion from Luzon. We are not identifying the battalions for operations reasons, it may create operational vacuum in the areas," said Torres. - GMANews.TV

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